VCs Fight TSC plan to scrap B.Ed degree programme
A clash looms between universities and the Ministry of Education after a vice chancellor contradicted Education cabinet secretary George Magoha over a proposal to scrap the bachelor of education (B.Ed) degree programme from September.
Kenyatta University VC Prof Paul Wainaina has strongly opposed the scrapping of B.Ed as proposed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and supported by Prof Magoha.
In a response to the TSC recommendations he presented to the Inter-Public University Council Consultative Forum last week, Prof Wainaina pokes holes into the plans to do away with the degree course which has been taught in Kenyan universities since 1970. KU is the main trainer of secondary school teachers in the country.
The Ministry of Education last year phased out the training of certificate in primary teacher education (P1) and replaced it with a diploma in primary teacher education. The first intake was done last month even though it attracted few applicants since most students did not meet the new entry requirements.
Prof Wainaina stated that universities are autonomous and develop their academic programmes independently, which are then accredited by the Commission for University Education (CUE). He also criticised the manner in which TSC put through its proposal.
“The TSC framework is not informed by empirical evidence anchored in research or evaluation reports. There is no evidence that stakeholders were involved in coming up with the envisaged TSC proposals and recommendations on teacher education development,” Prof Wainaina observed in his presentation.
He added that a number of universities have already aligned their B.Ed programmes to the competency based curriculum. Since information became public last month about the proposal to replace B.Ed with training in a general bachelor of science or arts degree followed by a post graduate diploma in education, Prof Magoha has supported the suggestion.
“For a teacher who has taken the one-year PGDE, the PGDE remains subordinate to the BA and BSc degree,” the VC said. He added that the concurrent model of teaching content alongside pedagogy had more advantages that the consecutive model where pedagogy is taught after the content.
The teachers’ employer also proposes that teacher trainees study three teaching subjects instead of the current two and that training be demand-driven. However, Prof Wainaina differed with that position, stating that universities train for the global market and that scrapping the course would deny privately-sponsored students the chance to pursue careers of their choice.
Kenya has over 300,000 teachers registered by the TSC but who are jobless despite schools being greatly understaffed. In the 2021/2022 financial year budget, the commission has been allocated Sh281.7 billion, up from Sh266 billion it received last year.
Prof Wainaina argued that the proposed introduction of a third teaching subject “would reduce the content covered in each subject area in the fields of BA and BSc leading to students pursuing education with insufficient subject content”.
“Major reforms in teacher education as this one should ideally have been channeled to universities through the office of the vice chancellor. But TSC, in its own wisdom, decided to work directly with deans, schools or faculty of education,” Prof Wainaina said.
The TSC proposals included in a document, “Framework on entry requirements in the Teaching Service,” has also drawn opposition from the Universities Academic Staff Union. The document was prepared by the TSC director of quality assurance and standards Dr Reuben Nthamburi.
Uasu officials has termed the proposal unnecessary and unfounded. They added that if adopted, it risks rendering established schools of education and departments at universities redundant.
“We feel the TSC framework is not acceptable as it is going to water down our education system, teachers. Teachers require specialised training right from the start,” Dr Wilfridah Itolondo said.
Dr Mercy M Mugambi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Educational Administration and Planning at the School of Education, UoN, has also opposed the TSC proposal.
“Universities should be left to align their programmes to the new system of education. TSC should point out specific issues with the concurrent model. How come now TSC has the overall say in university programmes?” Dr Mugambi asked.